Stay away from those rocks

6 May – 3 June 2017
Office Hours: Tue – Sat, 1100 – 1800
Gallery EXIT, 3/F, 25 Hing Wo St, Aberdeen

Gallery EXIT is pleased to announce "Stay away from those rocks", a solo exhibition by KONG Chun Hei. The exhibition will open on 6 May 2017 and remain on view through 3 June 2017. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, 6 May from 4pm to 6pm.

An unusually versatile artist, KONG employs a wide array of mediums, ranging from installations over video art to ink drawing, to reflect upon his experience of living in a highly urbanised and media-rich environment. Like an architect, he makes use of industrial materials such as concrete, steel and glass – the very building blocks of our cities. But instead of constructing as an architect would do, KONG deconstructs, hides, disables and unsettles.

One of the several installations in the exhibition, "Fang", consists of ten hand saws enveloped in fibre-reinforced concrete and mounted side by side on a wall. The sharp teeth of their blades are covered by concrete so that the viewer is guarded from the sight of the fang-like blades, suggesting that a feeling of security can only be achieved in complete isolation. The objects are named after the buried teeth forever lost to our visual perception, and only by losing them do we experience a sense of yearning.

Another recurrent theme in KONG’s work is our constant exposure to television and video images. In a group of installations devoted to this topic, he uses a surveillance camera, a projector and several television screens to show videos or to cast them onto walls or the floor. In this way, the light emitted from projectors and television sets takes on the quality of a building material. As KONG’s installations reveal, the glow of screens is an ever-present component that shapes our living environment just like concrete does – and that is just as sculptable.

With "The Tossing Light", an installation consisting of several old-fashioned TV sets, KONG takes a closer look at how we respond to these constant visual stimuli. The artist has carved ripples into the surface of the glass tubes – as a result, the images flickering over the screens appear distant and distorted, highlighting the glass barrier that separates the viewer from an illusionary world that usually blends seamlessly into our perceived reality.

The artist’s interest in materiality and barriers is also apparent in his more traditional work. His ink drawing "Stuff XI" carefully reproduces the texture of a heavily crumbled sheet of paper, but this illusion of brittle folds is subverted by mounting the actual paper onto a steel plate. KONG does not stop there – the upper edge of the plate is curved forward, adding a further twist to the meticulously constructed deception by making the work resemble a poster that starts to peel off a wall.

KONG’s work reflects his doubts about what we consider to be our reality. He bends and carves common materials right up to their breaking point, warps drawings out of shape and deforms TV screens. The objects we encounter make us feel safe and relaxed, but as Kong’s stress tests show, this feeling is just a convenient illusion. By deconstructing what seem to be stable and reliable surroundings, his work directs our attention back to the objects and lends them an air of obscurity.